The United States of America’s racial fault lines have once again become too evident to ignore, in large part due to the killings of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown, the protests in Ferguson, and the popularity of Ava Duvernay’s Selma. Though we stick to fashion and beauty on this platform, we’ve addressed the impact of these events on our everyday lives — as a site whose foundation was built on the idea of showcasing stylish people of color, it would have seemed nonsensical to not do so. We also realize that this style hub of sorts would not exist without the work of so many leaders today and those who came before us: allowing us to have the freedom to express ourselves, despite the injustice that is going on in the world around us. This is why we were so captivated by the #WeAreBlackHistory campaign which turned some of our favorite editors and bloggers into legendary Black History icons.
The photo series includes Jamilah Lemieux of Ebony.com, natural hair blogger Taren Guy, Deena Campbell of Essence.com, Julee Wilson of Huffington Post, and others as Angela Davis, Billie Holiday, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, and more — an appreciation of both these leaders and the young women who are following in their footsteps. The photo series is the creation of The Style Influencers Group: a company started by Alexis Felder, Christina Brown, and Jessica Andrews to unite tastemakers of color with brands in need of diversity. “The We Are Black History movement was created to honor our history, but also to foster a sense of unity among powerful black women voices in the digital space,” Felder told ELLE.com.
The icons chosen weren’t random either, as each woman has a connection to the pioneer she decided to portray. Of the pairings, Brown said “Each influencer has a personal connection to the legend they’re paying tribute to.” She continued, “They were chosen not only because they are deeply inspired by their icons, but because they’re making a tangible impact and shaping our history with their words, actions, and images.”
The trio reached out to their network of artists and called on photographer Jerome A. Shaw, hairstylist Seto McCoy, makeup artists Denise Laidley and Kalifa Gordon of KaydenMUA and Gracie J of The Editorial Nail to bring the project to life. “We did a one light setup, which made it more dramatic and brought even more life to the pictures,” said Shaw.
Of her portrayal of Billie Holiday, Taren Guy said “Billie was a pioneer in the music industry as a jazz artist and as a beautiful, talented black woman. And she was fearless! I feel like I connect to her because I consider myself to be a pioneer in the natural hair industry. It feels good to have gone through with something that wasn’t necessarily popular so that I could help other women on their own hair journeys.”
What a great way to celebrate Black History Month! We’re so grateful to these legends for paving the way for us and we have a feeling that young men and women might share the same feelings about the influencers above recreating some of their most iconic looks in a few decades’ time.
Check out the entire #WeAreBlackHistory series here.